Seven students from Sayreville High School in New Jersey have been hit with criminal charges alleging they sexually assaulted other students on the school’s football team.
Three players were charged with aggravated sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual misconduct, criminal restraint, and hazing for engaging in acts of sexual penetration. The other four were charged with a range of offenses, including aggravated assault, aggravated criminal sexual contact and hazing.
The scandal already led Sayreville High School administrators to cancel the team’s football season. School superintendent Richard Labbe tells the New York Daily News that a “pervasive” pattern of sexual hazing was found on the school’s football team.
"The prosecutor said it was pervasive and led me to believe it was more than one year," Labbe told the Daily News. "To the extent of that, I'm not sure. I'm confident that it was more than one year. How many more years? I'm not sure."
Labbe said it’s possible the school district may suspend Sayreville High’s football program indefinitely.
All seven students charged in the scandal have been suspended from the school. Prosecutors are still investigating the alleged sexual assaults, and say they are looking at four events that occurred between Sept. 19 and Sept. 29.
Members of the football team allegedly subjected teammates to criminal sexual acts during a hazing ritual. The ritual started with senior players howling. Then a freshman player would be pinned to the ground by multiple players. The victim would then be lifted to his feet as a finger was shoved into his rectum. Sometimes, that same finger would then be shoved in the victim’s mouth. A number of students report being subjected to the ritual. Since the story has developed, past students from the Sayreville football team have come forward saying they were hazed in similar fashion.
The seven charged players will soon appear before a Superior Court Judge in Family Court. No trial dates have been set.